At long, long last, The Handmaid’s Tale season 5 has premiered in the UK on Channel 4. Praise be!


The fifth instalment of the dystopian drama follows June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss) as she faces up to the consequences of her involvement in the murder of Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) last season.

Moss is back as June, while Yvonne Strahovski returns as Serena Joy Waterford, Madeline Brewer as Janine Lindo and Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia.

One key character who sadly won't be returning in season 5 is Alexis Bledel's Emily Malek.

The actress issued a statement to Entertainment Weekly earlier in 2022 that read: "After much thought, I felt I had to step away from The Handmaid's Tale at this time. I am forever grateful to Bruce Miller for writing such truthful and resonant scenes for Emily, and to Hulu, MGM, the cast and crew for their support."

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However, there's still a slight possibility that Emily could come back for Handmaid's sixth and final season.

"That character was not at the end of her journey as far as we were concerned," executive producer Bruce Miller previously told Entertainment Tonight.

Regarding her potential comeback in season 6, he said the team was "mindful" to "[leave] that door open".

The season 6 renewal was announced at the season 5 premiere at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.

Hulu also confirmed that The Handmaid’s Tale creator and showrunner Bruce Miller is "actively developing" a sequel series, based on Margaret Atwood’s novel Testaments, that will be set years after the events of the original Elisabeth Moss-starring show.

But in the meantime, read on for everything you need to know about the cast ahead of The Handmaid's Tale season 5.

The Handmaid’s Tale season 5 cast

The season 5 cast is as follows:

  • Elisabeth Moss as June Osborne
  • Yvonne Strahovski as Serena Joy Waterford
  • Madeline Brewer as Janine
  • Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia
  • O-T Fagbenle as Luke
  • Max Minghella as Nick
  • Samira Wiley as Moira
  • Bradley Whitford as Commander Lawrence
  • Amanda Brugel as Rita
  • Zawe Ashton as Moira’s girlfriend, Oona
  • McKenna Grace as Mrs. Esther Keyes
  • Genevieve Angelson as Mrs Wheeler
  • Christine Ko as Lily
  • Clea DuVall as Sylvia

Read on for everything you need to know about the main characters and who plays them.


Genevieve Angelson as Mrs Wheeler

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 13: Genevieve Angelson attends the 2nd Annual HCA TV Awards Broadcast & Cableat The Beverly Hilton on August 13, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/FilmMagic)
Genevieve Angelson Getty Images

Who is Mrs Wheeler? A villainous newcomer who becomes something of an assistant to Serena Joy Waterford. She’s also behind Gilead’s rise in Toronto.

Talking about her role, Angelson recently told TVLine: "I am tempted to say that, in reality, there are no villains. And while Serena is 'the bad guy' on the show, Serena also is coming up with very painful solutions to a very painful problem. She's going to drastic ends.

"In order to play Mrs Wheeler, I couldn't say 'I'm playing a bad guy.' I had to say, 'I'm playing someone who's willing to do anything to continue the human race, and that's what we're up against. So, do I want to be the person I am being? Maybe not. But I am accepting that is my reality, that is what I'm doing.' That was how I got by with that."

What else has Genevieve Angelson been in? Angelson is best known for her roles TV shows New Amsterdam, The Afterparty, This Is Us and Flack.

Christine Ko as Lily

Christine Ko Getty Images

Who is Lily? Lily has been described as "a gritty, resourceful Gilead refugee who is now a leader in the resistance movement".

What else has Christine Ko been in? Ko has previously starred in Hawaii Five-0 and Only Murders in the Building. She is also known for her role as Emma in the FX series Dave.


Elisabeth Moss plays June/Offred

Elisabeth Moss as June Osbourne in The Handmaid's Tale
Elisabeth Moss as June in The Handmaid's Tale Sophie Giraud/Hulu

Who is June/Offred? Offred (that is, the handmaid of Fred) is the main protagonist of The Handmaid's Tale and the story is largely told through her eyes. Of course, Offred wasn’t always her name: before the authoritarian theocracy of Gilead staged its takeover of the United States of America and stripped her of her humanity, she was known as June, and was a book editor, mother and husband.

At the end of season 4, June murdered Commander Fred Waterford, finally escaped Gilead and became a free woman in Canada, but looks set to continue her war against Gilead in season 5.

Where have I seen Elisabeth Moss before? Moss is best known for her role as Peggy Olson in Mad Men. The actress has also starred in High-Rise with Tom Hiddleston, Top of the Lake as Robin, and The West Wing as the president's daughter Zoey Bartlet. More recently, she appeared in The invisible Man as Cecilia Kass.

Yvonne Strahovski plays Serena Joy

The Handmaid's Tale season four
Serena Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski) in The Handmaid's Tale season four Channel 4

Who is Serena Joy? Serena Joy is the wife of Commander Fred Waterford. Together they received June as a Handmaid and subjected her to ritualistic sex in an attempt to repopulate Gilead.

Before the Republic she was a ‘televangelist’ who preached on-screen to try and get women to return to their traditional family roles. Despite being a key member of of the team in the initial stages of the creation of Gilead, she is soon shut out of the government and repressed by the society she helped create – a predicament that makes her miserable. So much so, in fact, that she helps get June’s daughter Nicole out of Gilead at the end of season 2.

However, while she looked like a candidate for becoming a double agent in the fight against Gilead at the start of season 3, Serena soon began to regret her decision to get Nicole out of the country and turned against June.

June will have to face the consequences of killing Commander Waterford in season 5 – and looks set to face off with Serena if the latest trailer was anything to go by.

Where have I seen Yvonne Strahovski before? Yvonne Strahovski is best known for her role as Sofie Werner in Netflix’s Stateless, as well as her part as Hannah McKay in Dexter.

She has also appeared in The Predator as Emily, and in 24: Live Another Day alongside Kiefer Sutherland.

O-T Fagbenle plays Luke

O-T Fagbenle and Elisabeth Moss in The Handmaid's Tale.
O-T Fagbenle as Luke and Elisabeth Moss as June in The Handmaid's Tale Sophie Giraud/Hulu

Who is Luke? Before the Republic of Gilead was formed, Luke was the husband of Offred and the father of their daughter, Hannah.

When they first met, Luke was married to another woman, whom he divorced, but the new theocratic regime did not recognise divorce, forcing Offred and Luke to try and escape over the border to Canada. Offred and Hannah were caught trying to flee, but Luke managed to escape and is now living as a refugee in Canada.

At the end of season 4, June managed to escape to Canada and reunite with Luke. The couple will continue to wage war against Gilead from a distance in season 5.

Where have I seen O-T Fagbenle before? O-T has previously starred in FM, Material Girl, Quick Cuts, Looking, The Interceptor and The Five.

Samira Wiley plays Moira

Alexis Bledel as Emily and Samira Wiley as Moira in The Handmaid's Tale
Alexis Bledel as Emily and Samira Wiley as Moira in The Handmaid's Tale Hulu

Who is Moira? Moira is Offred's best and oldest friend. An opinionated and feminist lesbian, Moira is one of the few women who stands up to authority directly from the start and makes two escape attempts, one successful, from Gilead.

Where have I seen Samira Wiley before? Samira Wiley is best known for her role as Poussey in Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. She also played Justina Jordan in the TV show You're the Worst.

Max Minghella plays Nick

Nick Handmaid's Tale
Max Minghella as Nick in The Handmaid's Tale Hulu

Who is Nick? Nick was first introduced as an Eye serving as The Commander and Serena Joy’s chauffeur in season 1. After Serena Joy insisted on him having sex with Offred in order to increase her chances of conceiving, the pair embarked on their own secret relationship. He is the father of June's daughter, Nicole.

Where have I seen Max Minghella before? Max previously played Richie Castellano in The Mindy Project, and Graham Hawtrey in Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson movie The Internship. He also played the role of Divya Narendra in The Social Network.

Ann Dowd plays Aunt Lydia

Handmaid's Tale Lydia
Ann Down as Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid's Tale Hulu

Who is Aunt Lydia? Perhaps the biggest villains of all in The Handmaid’s Tale, the Aunts are charged with training and disciplining Handmaid’s. When they don’t comply, Lydia has been known to issue some pretty harsh punishments including removing eyeballs and severing limbs.

Lydia is still reeling from the aftermath of June’s getaway in season 5 and is desperate to see her punished…

Where have I seen Ann Dowd before? Ann Dowd has previously starred in Green Gard, Garden State, Marley & Me, The Manchurian Candidate and Side Effects. She has also played Patti Levin in The Leftovers and Estabrooks Masters in Masters of Sex.

The Handmaid's Tale season 5 will air on Channel 4. Seasons 1-4 are available to stream now on Amazon Prime Video – try Amazon Prime Video for free for 30 days.

While you’re waiting, take a look at the rest of our Drama coverage or check out what else is on with our TV guide.


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